Hong Kong — A notable absentee, the return of an old favourite and the resumption of the US LPGA Tour feature in AFP Sport’s golf talking points this week.
The US PGA Tour has been back since early June but will really kick into top gear over the next few weeks. The World Golf Championship Invitational in Memphis, beginning on Thursday, begins a run of big tournaments, including the US PGA Championship in San Francisco, the Tour playoffs and the US Open at Winged Foot.
Most of the world’s top 50 will be at TPC Southwind in Memphis, this week, including defending champion Brooks Koepka. Notable absentees are world No 9 Adam Scott, the only top-10 star not playing, and 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods, who is keen to keep his ageing body fresh.
Australia’s 2013 US Masters champion, Scott has not played since the Players Championship was abandoned in March — the only member of the world’s top 30 yet to restart his season. The wary Scott is reportedly back in the US and planning to tee up at the PGA Championship but expressed reservations about playing during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is not clear yet if Scott will take part in the Tour playoffs, after Australian media said he was surprised the PGA Tour’s health and safety plan “wasn’t tighter”.
Scott may wait to make a decision on the rest of his schedule until after he has seen the bio-secure measures at Harding Park for himself. So far, seven players and three caddies have tested positive in the seven weeks since the PGA Tour resumed.
With so many European Tour events falling victim to the coronavirus in 2020, it is nice to report on one being resurrected. The English Open at the Forest of Arden, near Birmingham, returns on Thursday for the first time since June 2002.
The last time it was played Ronaldinho and Ronaldo were starring for Brazil at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, and last week’s British Masters winner Renato Paratore was still in kindergarten.
For the record, Darren Clarke made history 18 years ago by becoming the first player to win the title for a third time.
But not everything changes. The defending US Masters champion in 2002 was the same as now — Tiger Woods.
When 144 of the world’s leading women tee off on Friday at the Inverness Club in Ohio, it will be the US LPGA Tour’s first event for 166 days since the Australian Open in February.
The resumption sees back-to-back events in Toledo; with no fans but face masks, Covid-19 testing, social distancing and thermal scanners.
However, the biggest challenge in the new normal might be getting to the events safe and sound. Many are opting to drive their own cars vast distances to the appropriately named Drive On Championship rather than risk flying.
Getting behind the wheel had one Major champion flummoxed. Angela Stanford, the 2018 Evian Championship winner, was forced into a U-turn after setting out from her home in Fort Worth, Texas for the 17-hour, 1,900km drive north.
“Well, I packed the car this morning for Toledo. All the emotions you can imagine, excited, nervous, anxious, all of it,” Stanford tweeted last Friday. “It was bittersweet pulling out of the driveway. About 15 minutes down the road ... I forgot my golf clubs. #2020 #letstrythisagain.”
World rankings: 1 Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.97, 2 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 8.51, 3 Justin Thomas (US) 7.54, 4 Webb Simpson (US) 6.92 (+1), 5 Dustin Johnson (US) 6.88 (-1), 6 Brooks Koepka (US) 6.26, 7 Bryson DeChambeau (US) 6.04, 8 Patrick Reed (US) 5.89, 9 Adam Scott (AUS) 5.67, 10 Patrick Cantlay (US) 5.56, 11 Xander Schauffele (US) 5.38, 12 Collin Morikawa (US) 4.95 (+1), 13 Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 4.93 (-1), 14 Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 4.81 (+1), 15 Tiger Woods (US) 4.69 (-1), 16 Tony Finau (US) 4.47 (+1), 17 Justin Rose (ENG) 4.43 (-1), 18 Marc Leishman (AUS) 4.30, 19 Gary Woodland (US) 4.24, 20 Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 4.17
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.